What does extracurricular mean?
Simply put, extracurricular is all the activities that take place outside of a regular academic curriculum. These are often the subjects that are not considered to be as important, but that are often the ones that fill a child's heart with joy! Sport, art and craft, music, drama, dance, cookery, gardening, socialising and playing, are some examples.
Of course, with home education, there is no legal requirement to follow a regular academic curriculum, at least not here in the UK. I choose to prioritise time for play as I believe that children (and adults too) learn best when they are pursuing their own deep interests and enjoying themselves. I believe that children learn the literacy and numeracy skills that they need through play, providing that they have access to a wide range of rich learning opportunities and experiences.
Aside from ample time to play, here are some of the extracurricular plans we have in place for the coming year...
Bean has been attending a weekly gymnastics class for two years now, and she absolutely LOVES it! She spends every waking minute of her day stretching, bending and cartwheeling about the place! It is one of the activities that is non-negotiable for her, and we therefore plan our whole schedule around it.
Just this past year she has begun to work towards the British Association of Gymnastics Proficiency Awards, and I've noticed such a huge improvement in her confidence and skills. She is one of three home educated children that attends the class and, as parents, we've all been so happy with how sensitively the teachers have supported them in adapting to the more formal structure of the sessions.
For her 8th birthday I bought Bean a Hudora Gymnastics Bar for the garden which has completely exceeded my expectations. The Amazon reviews were all really positive, but I have to admit that I did feel a little sceptical about how much potential for variety of movement this piece of equipment had to offer. Anyway, she is out there and using it every day. In just three months, her upper body strength has vastly improved, and she can do so much more on it than simply rolling forwards.
In September, Bean will also be spending one day a week with our dear friend and childminder Millie, and her family, at Millie's Garden. Millie's eldest daughter is 10, and is a keen and competent gymnast. They have a professional quality trapeze and corde lisse set up in their 200ft woodland garden, as well as a slack line and indoor balance beam. I know that she's going to have an absolute blast working on her skills, while learning from a slightly older and more physically capable child.
Art and Craft
Bean is super creative, and with a creative Mama, we are never short of ideas for creative pursuits. Arts and crafts permeate everything we do, so for the time being, it is not something that I am specifically teaching. Bean has access to a fully stocked art cupboard, vertical painting easel and lots of craft materials. She is always making, making, making.
These are my favourite books for reading about children and art...
For open-ended, process art:
If I was only going to buy one book, it'd be this one! It's awesome!
For Waldorf inspired drawing and painting:
Painting and Drawing in Waldorf Schools by Thomas Wildgruber
Painting With Children by Brunhild Muller
Creative Form Drawing: Workbook 1 by Angela Lord
Drawing With Children by Mona Brookes
How to Draw Almost Every Day by Kamo
These are both more formal drawing lesson type books, but we find them fun, providing that I am doing the drawing alongside Bean.
Bean is keen to try piano lessons this year, and I'm in the process of trying to find a Suzuki trained teacher for a few trial lessons. She has access to a keyboard at her Daddy's house, but I think we're going to borrow my Mum's electric piano on long-term loan, at least while we are having our trial. I'll keep you posted on her progress.
Aside from that, she has access to a basket of quality musical instruments and her own CD player with a small selection of music CD's. I love music, and have quite an eclectic taste. We can often be found dancing around our kitchen and dining room to our favourite songs!
This term (September - December) Bean will be doing a fortnightly cookery class with Live Learn Cook I have no experience with these classes, but I've heard positive feedback, so I'm feeling hopeful that the classes are good.
I'm also hoping to incorporate more cooking into our topics, for example, learning to cook dishes from around the world, baking for our poetry teatime, recreating dishes from the Harry Potter books, cooking with our homegrown fruits and vegetables etc. Just this evening we have cooked a delicious Sri Lankan dish from scratch. If you're quick, you can follow along in our Instagram stories!
This is the last of five blog posts sharing our plans for the upcoming school year. You can read the others in the series here...